Many Americans, if they have any memory of the U.S. Navy in the Vietnam War, may recall the dire situation of a river patrol-boat crew in the 1979 movie Apocalypse Now, of naval aviators forced to break the rules to accomplish their mission in the 1991 film Flight of the Intruder, and of sailors pushing helicopters off their ships in news accounts of the traumatic 1975 evacuation of Saigon. In short, these images depict a Navy in distress.1
Forged in Battle
Although Vietnam took a heavy toll on the Navy, in retrospect the experience equipped the service with the skills needed to meet the challenges of the late 20th century.
By Edward J. Marolda